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The Sounds of Saugus

GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED FOR Jan. 21 Saugus Advocate
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Ready to vote on The Voke Tuesday?

  Any Saugonian who reads a weekly or daily newspaper surely knows by now that Tuesday (Jan. 25) is a Special Election for registered voters in Saugus. And there will be one question on the ballot requiring a “Yes” or “No” answer – “Do you approve of the vote of the Regional District School Committee of the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District adopted on December 9, 2021, to authorize the borrowing of $317,422,620 to pay costs of designing, constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School and related athletic facilities, located at 100 Hemlock Road in Wakefield, Massachusetts, including the payment of all costs incidental and related thereto ….”

  The setting and format for the election is a bit unusual, in that people who might like to vote between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m. before they go to work or between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. after they get home and have supper will not have that option. The voting will take place between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. And they won’t be voting at their normal polling locations either. Tuesday’s vote will take place in the Saugus Senior Center at 466 Central St.

  Another unusual aspect to this election is that the outcome will be decided within the context of the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District. Theoretically, a negative vote by Saugus wouldn’t kill the project. By the same token, a positive vote wouldn’t assure that the project proceeds. All it takes is a simple majority from the registered voters of Saugus and the other 11 communities that make up The Voke school district.

  And if the project passes, based on a simple majority vote of the 12 communities, Saugus officials will have to figure out how to finance the project, most likely by a debt exclusion vote.

  Remember – Town Meeting members voted 37-6 in favor of a Finance Committee recommendation against approving an article which many town officials worry could lead to massive cuts in the town’s operating budget over the next 30 years. The estimated financial impact for Saugus over a 30-year period is as high as $40.6 million. A project with that kind of price tag should be funded through a debt exclusion instead of the town’s operating budget – and by a vote of the people, a majority of the Town Meeting members agreed.

  And there were some town officials who frankly were annoyed that the town didn’t receive specific dollar amounts to vote on and with an explanation as to how the project would be funded.

  All things considered, my guess is that those who show up and vote in Saugus on Tuesday will overwhelmingly support The Voke School project, which will probably win by a landslide after all the votes are counted in the 12 communities that make up the district. Current conditions at The Voke are deplorable for students, especially if they have physical disabilities. The students deserve better, particularly the students from Saugus who attend classes there.

  If the new school wins the election, the real challenge for Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and other town officials will come later when they have to figure out how to sell another debt exclusion to the town. And if that effort fails, Saugus could be making some tough decisions to fund its share of the new school project. Program cuts and layoffs. The Police and Fire Departments would take major financial hits if Crabtree and other officials had to worry about how to come up with the $1.3 million every year.

  Stay tuned.

We have a winner!

  Congratulations to Anthony Arone for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who got Sketched!” Contest. He was the only reader answering correctly, so he won without having to have his name selected from the green Boston Red Sox cap.

  Here’s the correct answer, offered by the person who goes by the name of The Sketch Artist:

  “The answer to last week’s sketch is one of our Saugus Firefighter Heroes, Sean Bohannon!

  “Sean was one of three of the group of Saugus Firefighters to receive a Group Award for Meritorious Conduct last year! Sean joined our Saugus Fire Dept. in 2017.

  “Upon being given the Meritorious Conduct Award, Sean was recognized with honor by Governor Baker, Lieutenant [Governor Karyn] Polito and Secretary Reidy for above and beyond services and bravery on a dangerous job; working with excellence. This award is given out for Remarkable bravery and dedication as part of a team of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Firefighters.

  “The Fire Marshal Ostroskey was quoted in The Saugus Advocate (Nov.24th page 2) for stating, ‘That the Firefighter of the Year Awards recognize their individual and collective acts of bravery and service that truly go above and beyond the call of duty.’

  “Sean served six years with the U. S. National Guards and spent time serving our Country overseas in Kuwait. Still, even while serving in Kuwait, Sean thought about ways to give and be of service to others! He often thought about being a firefighter. Sean is quoted from The Saugus Advocate (Nov. 24th issue page two) ‘it seemed like an honorable profession – something that would be a good career and a way to give back by helping people,’ he said.

  “While sketching Sean’s picture, having seen him on the job and in action, I had to try to capture his sense of enthusiasm as he goes about business. He loves his work, and that shows outward when he shows up to serve Saugus.

  “In different scenarios I’ve glimpsed at our Saugus Firefighters out and about and if time allows I’ve often paused and observed a little. I have witnessed the same consistent evaluation time and time again. Our Saugus Firefighters stride bravely into whatever call they are answering not knowing what or where the call will end up, yet, they enthusiastically show up prepared to assist with whatever it may be. They guide with caring compassion, calming manners, trying to put people at ease, while accessing the scene and bringing about safety and communicating with great listening skills.

  “Sean you shine Keep excelling at all you do Congratulations on the Award and thank you for your service!

  “Yours Truly,

  “The Sketch Artist”

A “Shout-Out” to a great group of people

  We didn’t receive any nominations this week from our readers. So, I will pick a couple of worthy candidates.

  When was the last time you heard about former Saugus Selectmen Peter Manoogian and Steve Castinetti teaming up for something positive for the people of Saugus?

  It would be a rarity, considering they were political adversaries several years ago. Castinetti, who is longtime Saugus Veterans Council Commander, was one of four selectmen who were ousted in a recall election after they fired Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree. Manoogian was a key catalyst of the recall election which paved the way for Crabtree getting his job back.

  But that was Saugus politics back in 2015. This week Manoogian and Castinetti were united in a common cause at the Saugus Senior Center. They led a discussion on Prostate Cancer Awareness. They even shared their own stories on how they dealt with the disease.

  It is doubtful you will see these guys sharing a table at a political lunch or breakfast. It speaks well for both men that they put their political differences aside and collaborated on trying to heighten the awareness of prostate cancer – a serious public health concern.

  Also, here’s a “shout-out” to Senior Center Director Joanne Olsen, who helped to host and set up the arrangements for this worthwhile discussion. From all accounts, the discussion was a great success. And the group plans to meet again at 10 a.m. on March 16, back at the Saugus Senior Center.

  Please call the Senior Center at 781-231-4182 to indicate that you will be participating. While this disease is specific to men, women are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Want to “Shout-Out” a fellow Saugonian?

  This is an opportunity for our paper’s readers to single out – in a brief mention – remarkable acts or achievements by Saugus residents or an act of kindness or a nice gesture. Just send an email (mvoge@comcast.net) with a mention in the subject line of “An Extra Shout-Out.” No more than a paragraph; anything longer might lend itself to a story and/or a photo.

Friday breakfasts at Legion Hall still on hold

  Concerns about COVID-19 have led to a temporary shutdown of the popular Friday morning breakfasts at the Saugus American Legion Cpl Scott J. Procopio Post 210 Legion Hall located at 44 Taylor St. Legion Hall was supposed to reopen recently for the breakfasts. But the reopening has been delayed again.

  Debra Dion Faust, Building Manager of American Legion Post 210, has said the American Legion membership voted to delay the reopening until Friday, Feb. 4.

Live Bingo at the Kowloon

  The Kowloon Restaurant will continue with Bingo every Wednesday through March 30, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Hong Kong Lounge. Prizes will be given away each week with a grand prize set at the finale. A Chinese gourmet spread is available during Bingo featuring pupu platters, egg rolls, crab Rangoons, Saugus Wings, General Gau’s chicken, lobster sauce, fried scallops, lo mein, moo shu pork, salt & pepper calamari and sushi along with a full bar menu, including the signature mai tais.

  Call the Kowloon Restaurant at 781-233-0077 to reserve your table.


Town posts Compost Site Winter Schedule

  The Town of Saugus announced that the community’s compost site and recycling center will be open to residents the third Saturday of the month during the winter months. The site will be open Feb. 19 and March 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The site is located behind the Department of Public Works at 515 Main St.

  Yard waste must be disposed of in brown compost bags or open containers. The Town will accept grass clippings, leaves and brush. As in years past, no branches or limbs larger than three inches in diameter are permitted.

  At this time residents will not need a compost site sticker to access the site. The Town asks all residents to please wear a mask and maintain and respect social distancing from others while visiting the site.

  Residents may call Lorna Cerbone at the Solid Waste and Recycling Department at 781-231-4036 with questions or for more information.

Trash/Recycling one-day Holiday Delay

  The Town of Saugus announced that the trash and recycling collection will run on a one-day delay through tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 22) due to the observance of Martin Luther King Day.

  The Town of Saugus would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. Please contact Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Lorna Cerbone at 781-231-4036 with any questions.

Want to be a Knight?

  The Knights of Columbus is looking for new members to join. If interested in becoming a member of this local organization, please call 781-233-9858.

Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus program


  (Editor’s Note: The following info is from an announcement submitted by Julie Cicolini, a member of the Board of Directors for Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus, providing information about the program.)


  Who we are: Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus (HS2) is a nonprofit group of volunteers who are helping to offset food insecurity in households. HS2 provides students/families who enroll in the program a supply of nutritious food for when school lunches and breakfasts are unavailable to them on weekends.

  How HS2 can help you: HS2 bags are distributed at school on Fridays to take home. Bags include such items as peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, canned meals/soups/tuna/vegetables, pasta/sauce, fruit cups, cereal, oatmeal, goldfish, pretzels and granola bars. To sign up go here to complete online form: https://forms.gle/gmMGguycSHBdziuE9.

  Want to partner with us: HS2 relies on donations to create take-home bags for a weekend full of meals. All food is provided to children free of charge. It is our hope these resources will support the health, behavior and achievement of every student who participates. We would love to partner with organizations, youth groups, PTOs, businesses and individuals to assist in feeding students of Saugus.

  To learn more about how you can partner with us, visit the Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus Facebook page or email us at HS2Saugus@gmail.com. Checks can also be sent directly to Salem Five c/o Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus, 855-5 Broadway, Saugus, MA 01906. Online donations can also be made at https://givebutter.com/HealthySaugus.


Food Pantry still open

  The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry continues to remain open between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Fridays despite concerns over the Coronavirus. They have made adjustments to protect their core of volunteers and the needy people who receive the food. For the protection of volunteers & clients, and to limit personal contact and crowding/gathering, the food pantry has been distributing pre-bagged groceries. Even though clients may receive items they don’t want or need, food pantry organizers feel this is the best course of action to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. Those in need, even for short-term or one-time assistance, are encouraged to come.

  The food pantry is in the basement of Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.

Clarifying some veterans’ issues

  Jay Pinette, the Veterans Service Officer for the Town of Saugus, wanted to pass along a few words to promote a better understanding of how his office works. “Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) are not VA employees and do not have direct access to VA systems or information,” Jay wrote in an email to us. “Local VSOs are employees of their respective cities and towns. VSOs are generally able to assist veterans and eligible dependents with VA-related claims and benefits activities.

  “One of the primary duties of the VSOs is to administer a program for veterans and eligible dependents that is referred to as ‘Chapter 115’. Under Chapter 115 of Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L. CH. 115), the Commonwealth provides a uniform program of financial assistance for low income veterans and their dependents. Qualified veterans and their dependents who meet the income and asset eligibility criteria may receive monthly financial benefits that are intended to assist the veteran with housing and living expenses.

  “If local Veterans wish to enroll in VA healthcare and/or obtain a VA ID card, representatives from the VA Bedford will be on-site at the Lynn VA Clinic twice a month. The on-site enrollment will be held on the 1 st and 3 rd Tuesday of each month from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Appointments are advised and the dates and times are subject to change. The Lynn VA Clinic is located at 225 Boston Street, Suite 107. For more information or to schedule an appointment for enrollment, call 781-687-3348 or e-mail vabedoutreach@va.gov.

  “The Veterans Services Offices of Saugus and other surrounding communities have partnered with the Greater Boston Food Bank to hold monthly mobile food markets for veterans. With the closure of the Saugus Senior Center during the pandemic, the food market was moved to Melrose. We have now moved the food market back to the Saugus Senior Center. The veterans mobile food market is held on the third Wednesday of each month. Veterans and eligible dependents must sign up with the Saugus Veterans Service Office to determine eligibility. VSO Jay Pinette can be reached at 781-231-4010 or at jpinette@saugus-ma.gov. Or on the first floor of Saugus Town Hall at 298 Central Street, Saugus MA 01906.”

Let’s hear it!

  Got an idea, passing thought or gripe you would like to share with The Saugus Advocate? I’m always interested in your feedback. It’s been close to six years since I began work at The Saugus Advocate. I’m always interested in hearing readers’ suggestions for possible stories or good candidates for “The Advocate Asks” interview of the week. Feel free to email me at mvoge@comcast.net.

  Do you have some interesting views on an issue that you want to express to the community? Submit your idea. If I like it, we can meet for a 15- to 20-minute interview over a hot drink at a local coffee shop. And I’ll buy the coffee or tea. Or, if you prefer to continue practicing social distancing and be interviewed from the safety of your home on the phone or via email, I will provide that option to you as the nation recovers from the Coronavirus crisis.

  If it’s a nice day and the temperature is 50 degrees or better, my preferred site for a coffee and interview would be the picnic area of the Saugus Iron Works.


GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED FOR Jan. 21 Saugus Advocate

GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED! If you know the right answer, you might win the contest. In this week’s edition, we continue our weekly feature where a local artist sketches people, places and things in Saugus. Got an idea who was sketched this week? If you do, please email me at mvoge@comcast.net or leave a phone message at 978-683-7773. Anyone who between now and Tuesday at noon correctly identifies the Saugonian being sketched qualifies to have their name put in a green Boston Red Sox hat with a chance to be selected as the winner of a $10 gift certificate to J&M Italian American Cuisine (340 Central St., Saugus). But you have to enter to win! Look for the winner and identification in next week’s “The Sounds of Saugus.” Please leave your mailing address in case you are a winner. (Courtesy illustration to The Saugus Advocate by a Saugonian who goes by the name of “The Sketch Artist”)

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